A Critique Of The Gospel According To Jesus -- By: J. Kevin Butcher

Journal: Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society
Volume: JOTGES 02:1 (Spring 1989)
Article: A Critique Of The Gospel According To Jesus
Author: J. Kevin Butcher

A Critique Of
The Gospel According To Jesus

J. Kevin Butcher

Ebenezer Baptist Church
Detroit, Michigan

I. Introduction

By writing The Gospel According to Jesus, in a sense John F. MacArthur has done the evangelical world a favor. He has raised to a level of national consciousness the contemporary confusion in the Church over the most basic issue of all-the nature of the Gospel.

MacArthur rightly suggests that there are two different gospels espoused in Christendom today (p. xiv), and he also correctly implies (by quoting Gal 1 :6–8 [p.17]) that these two gospels cannot simultaneously be correct. One of them is false and corrupt. One of them is not the Gospel according to Jesus (p. 15). Because the doctrine of salvation is “the base of all we teach” (p. xvi), and “a matter of eternal consequence (p. xiv), MacArthur is also profoundly accurate in concluding that the Church must seek clarity on this issue once and for all.

We are not dialoguing over semantic differences, MacArthur affirms. The question, then, that MacArthur’s book seeks to answer is: “Which gospel is which?” Again, while asking the question proves to be extremely helpful, it is in answering it that MacArthur deeply disappoints the evangelical world. The problem is not his style. The text is clear, articulate, and obviously written from the heart. The tone, though biting at times, nevertheless comes across as sincere. Even his conclusions, though an obvious problem to those of us with a different view, are not the most disturbing element of his work. The major failure of The Gospel According to Jesus lies in its inability to conclusively and convincingly defend the view of the Gospel it claims to support.

MacArthur states his positions with a persuasive vigor throughout, but he errs in so many foundational areas of his argument that the ultimate value of the book is seriously affected. The remainder of this review will explore several of these fundamental errors in methodology and reasoning and will attempt to show how they invalidate MacArthur’s conclusions.

II. Inaccurate Understanding of the Free Grace Position

MacArthur’s first error involves a problem of perception—he doesn’t clearly understand the other view. He does well when he states his own position, describing “Lordship Salvation” as a gospel that requires a faith that commits all (cf. pp. 169ff), a repentance that gives up sin (cf. pp. 159ff) and a submission to the “mastership of Christ” (cf. pp. 203ff) before eternal life is apprehended. The Lordship gospe...

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